SANTEE DIVERSITY PROGRAM GETS OFF TO ROCKY START WITH CLAIMS OF HYPOCRISY

BILL TO RESTRICT RECALL ELECTIONS WITHDRAWN BY AUTHOR, BUT OTHER MEASURES REMAIN

RANCHITA’S MARKET DESTROYED BY FIRE, FUNDRAISER AIMS TO HELP FAMILY REBUILD

LOCAL AND NATIONAL LEADERS REACT TO GUILTY VERDICTS IN DEREK CHAUVIN TRIAL FOR KILLING OF GEORGE FLOYD

LEMON GROVE HOUSING ELEMENT MOVES FORWARD

STRONG WINDS, HOT WEATHER AND A CHANCE OF RAIN FORECAST

VIRTUAL CELEBRATION, REAL FUN — COUNTY’S EARTH DAY 2021

COVID-19 DEATHS REACH 3 MILLION WORLDWIDE

NEARLY HALF OF ALL ADULTS COUNTYWIDE HAVE RECEIVED AT LEAST ONE COVID-19 VACCINE

DISTILLERIES HOST COMMUNITY PARTY SATURDAY APRIL 17 IN SPRING VALLEY

FIREBALLS IN THE SKY: METEOR SHOWERS START TONIGHT, PEAKING ON EARTH DAY

COUNTY PAUSES USE OF JOHNSON & JOHNSON VACCINES DUE TO RARE BLOOD CLOTTING COMPLICATION

News

HELIX WATER DISTRICT RESIDENTS EXPRESS IRE OVER PROPOSED RATE INEQUITIES, ALLEGE DECEPTIVE NOTICES AT GROSSMONT-MT. HELIX ASSOCIATION (GMIA) PUBLIC FORUM

GMIA spokesman Mark Schuppert, with Helix Water Board Directors Kathleen Coates Hedberg and De Ana R. Verbeke

by Gayle Early

May 20, 2009 (Mt. Helix)—Residents poured into Fuerte Elementary School’s auditorium Thursday evening, May 15th to get a status update on Helix Water District’s (HWD) rate-increase proposals and express outrage over what they contend is an unfair tier-pricing system. GMIA, representing the large unincorporated area of East County around La Mesa, offered eight recommendations to residents as well as to the water district for ways it can make the system fairer.


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WATER BOARD STIRS FLOOD OF CONTROVERSY: ALLEGED VIOLATIONS, SECRECY FUEL THREATS OF LEGAL ACTION; SPECIAL MEETING SET MAY 22 TO ADDRESS LEGAL CHALLENGES

Kristin Kjaero

 

A special joint investigative report by East County Magazine and Channel 10 News

10news.com story

By Miriam Raftery

May 19, 2009 (La Mesa)—A water board controversy has sparked public outcry in East County. No, we’re not talking about a torture tactic—though many ratepayers fear pain from steep rate hikes in the Helix Water District. The local “water board” controversy centers around allegations that the Helix Water Board voted on hefty rate-hikes and eliminating irrigation meters for homeowners without adequate public input, possibly violating state law.

 

Two cure and correct letters (PDF 160 kb) sent to the district allege that the board failed to provide adequate notice of hearings, did not follow proper meeting procedures, appointed an ad-hoc committee after adjourning a public meeting and then reconvened to take action after some citizens had left. The Board has called a special meeting for Friday, May 22 at 10 a.m. specifically to address the legal issues raised.


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EXCERPTS FROM LETTERS SENT TO HELIX WATER DISTRICT IN OPPOSITION TO THE RATE HIKES

 

By Miriam Raftery

 

May 19, 2009 (San Diego's East County)--Helix Water Board’s management withheld 68 letters sent by ratepayer from at least one Board member until after a vote was taken on rate hikes at the April 27 meeting. Below are excerpts from those letters. All opposed the rate hikes; many accused the board of unfairly targeting homeowners over businesses, particularly owners of large properties even if they have already reduced water consumption sharply.


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FIRE DAMAGES BANK AMERICA IN EL CAJON

May 19, 2009 (El Cajon)--At 7:33 p.m. tonight El Cajon Firefighters responded to reports of a fire in the kitchen area of the Bank of America branch, located at 512 Fletcher Parkway. Upon arrival fire crews found smoke coming from the rear of the building where they made entry. Quick action by firefighters had the fire knocked down in 15 minutes. The bank will remain closed until repairs can be made.


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POWERLINK FOES APPLAUD DEFEAT OF HAYES AS INTERIOR DEPUTY SECRETARY

By Miriam Raftery

May 13, 2009 (San Diego’s East County)—Senate Republicans blocked the nomination by President Barack Obama of David Hayes to serve as deputy secretary of the Interior Department. Hayes, who held the same position in the Clinton administration, has drawn opposition from some community leaders and environmentalists locally due to his recent role as lobbyist for Sempra Energy. Sempra’s Sunrise Powerlink Project must be approved by the Interior Department for federal lands in San Diego’s East County in order for the project to be constructed.


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PASSAGES: SUZANNE DI MASCIO, R.N., MANAGER OF RYAN WHITE PROGRAM AND DIRECTOR OF AMERICHOICE, LOSES BATTLE WITH CANCER

WIFE OF EAST COUNTY MAGAZINE'S BUSINESS MANAGER WILL BE MISSED

May 11, 2009 (Santee)—Suzanne (“Suzy”) Marie Di Mascio, a leading voice in San Diego’s healthcare community and wife of East County Magazine’s business manager Leon Thompson, passed away on May 7, 2009 at San Diego Hospice following a long battle against cancer. Her efforts helped improve access to healthcare services for thousands of people in San Diego County.


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MAY 12 SCREENING OF “RUNNING DRY” TO BENEFIT ARCHI’S ACRES ORGANIC FARM AND VETERANS' TRAINING

May 8, 2009 San Diego, CA – Lestat’s West, the showroom next to the eclectic San Diego coffee house in Normal Heights, will screen “Running Dry”, a powerful documentary on the growing global water crisis on Tuesday, May 12 at 7:00 pm. “Running Dry” is a comprehensive public information/education project, established to raise awareness about the worsening global humanitarian water crisis. The project’s centerpieces are two explosive and in-depth documentaries, “Running Dry” and “The American Southwest: Are We Running Dry?”

A


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ECCAC HOSTS PARTY MAY 30 TO FUND LEGAL BATTLE AGAINST POWERLINK: MAY 30 IN LAKESIDE

The East County Community Action Coalition (ECCAC) is sponsoring a fundraiser on Saturday, May 30, 2009 from 11-4 pm at Hazy Meadow Ranch in Lakeside, CA. This is an all-county event that will feature live music, raffle, opportunity drawing, carnvial games, pony rides, and more. The organization seeks public help to fund legal action to "sunset" Sunrise Powerlink.


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ANDERSON FIGHTS TO HALT NEW SEPTIC FEE: ASSEMBLY BILL WOULD REPEAL COSTLY NEW RULES

May 11, 2009 (Sacramento)--Gerry Giguere and his wife Kit live on a fixed income and don’t want to lose their home over a new septic regulation.

“This is big-government insanity,” said Gerry Giguere, whose home in rural east county requires a septic system and well.

California will soon impose a new fee of up to $650 for all septic tank owners. The fees would pay for mandatory inspections of all septic tanks and could force many to pay for costly upgrades, angering rural property owners who rely on septic systems.


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SPLC PROVIDES TOOLS TO CURB RECRUITMENT OF TEENS BY RACIST HATE GROUPS; HATE CRIMES ON RISE

By Miriam Raftery

May 9, 2009 (La Mesa)—“There is an alarming increase in hate crimes in the United States,” James McElroy, chairman of the board for the Southern Law & Poverty Center (SLPC), told members and guests at the La Mesa –Foothills Democratic Club on May 6th. “We try to shine a little light on it. Hate is like a fungus under a rock. Shine a light and you can eradicate it.”


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STATE OF EAST COUNTY: CITY LEADERS REVEAL PLANS RANGING FROM DOWNTOWN REVITALIZATION TO A WATER SKI PARK IN SANTEE; JACOB TO PROPOSE FIRE DEPLOYMENT STUDY

May 2, 2009 (El Cajon)—Speaking at an East County Chamber of Commerce breakfast at Grossmont College yesterday, Supervisor Dianne Jacob took a cue from President Barack Obama and offered her own “100 days” post-election report. But she noted one key difference, “I did not take over any banks,” she quipped, then offered her own “to do” list. Mayors of several East County cities also offered their perspectives.

 


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NEW FLU CASES CONFIRMED AT SDSU & POLINSKY FOSTER CHILDREN CENTER; NO CLOSURES AT THE SCHOOLS, BUT STATE PRISON SYSTEM HALTS VISITS AMID FLU FEARS

May 4, 2009 (San Diego)—San Diego County now has 24 confirmed cases of H1N1 influenza (the World Health Organization’s new name for swine flu). New cases include a 20-year-old SDSU student and a child at the Polinsky Center for foster children.

 


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NEW FLU’S ORIGIN TRACED TO SAN DIEGO BOY; 15 LOCAL CASES NOW CONFIRMED, 3 AREA SCHOOLS CLOSE

May 3, 2009 (San Diego)—Health authorities have traced origins of the H1N1 swine flu outbreak to a 10-year old son of a military family in San Diego, UPI reports today. The Centers for Disease Control conducted tests on samples from the boy, revealing the never-before-seen strain of flu virus on April 15, though his brother had symptoms two weeks earlier. Today, the County Health & Human Services Agency confirms four new cases of the flu, bringing the total of cases locally to 15, with several more suspected.


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SAN DIEGO AND IMPERIAL COUNTIES DECLARE LOCAL HEALTH EMERGENCIES OVER SWINE FLU

April 29, 2009 (San Diego)—San Diego and Iimperial Counties both declared local health emergencies today. The declarations are routine steps in preparations for addressing an outbreak of swine flu. There are eight confirmed cases in San Diego County and 5 confirmed cases in Imperial County. The three newest cases in San Diego County include a three-year-old boy and his father, as well as a 23-year-old man. An additional seven cases of suspected swine flu are currently being tested, East County Magazine has learned.

 


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8 SWINE FLU CASES CONFIRMED IN SAN DIEGO COUNTY; SDSU CASE SUSPECTED. COULD CAMPUS BE SHUT DOWN BEFORE FINAL EXAMS?

WORLD HEALTH ORGANIZATION DECLARES PHASE 5 EPIDEMIC

April 29, 2009 (San Diego)—Eight cases of people infected with swine influenza have been confirmed in San Diego County, confirms Tom Christensen, Health & Human Services media spokesman. Details on new cases will be released later today. Several other local cases are suspected, including an SDSU student. President Barack Obama today said that schools with an infected student should close down, raising the possibility that SDSU could shut down shortly before final exams scheduled May 4-8.


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TEMPEST IN A TEAPOT? LOCAL LEGISLATORS SQUARE OFF OVER TAX DAY "TEA PARTY" PROTESTS

By Miriam Raftery

April 27, 2009 (San Diego’s East County)—California’s Republican legislators joined in a “tea party” tax protest in Sacramento earlier this month. In response, Democratic leaders staged a “reality check” to unveil a 150-foot long scroll listing $26 billion in budget cuts made since 2003--warning that more severe cuts to schools and other essential programs would be required without the revenue increases in the 2009-2010 budget.

Both sides bolstered their arguments with videos--posted here.


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FLOOD OF RATEPAYER PROTESTS PROMPTS HELIX WATER TO HOLD EMERGENCY MEETING MONDAY, APRIL 27 AT 2 PM; CRITICS CONTEND DISTRICT PLAN IS UNFAIR TO BIG FAMILIES & LARGE LOT OWNERS

 

Update April 28: Despite strong public protest, Helix Water District approved eliminating agricultural meters for 900 customers and accepted other staff recommendations. Watch for details soon.

 

By Miriam Raftery April 26, 2009 (La Mesa)—Deluged by hundreds of calls from residents irate about steep rate increases for heavy water use, and by many seeking irrigation meters to qualify for cheaper water rates, Helix Water District’s Board of Directors will convene a special meeting at 2 p.m. Monday, April 27th.

 


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U.S. DECLARES SWINE FLU EMERGENCY; BORDER CROSSERS, AIR TRAVELERS TO BE SCREENED FOR ILLNESS

April 26, 2009 (Washington D.C.)—The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services declared a public emergency today in the United States due to the outbreak of a new strain of swine flu in five states (California, Ohio, New York, Kansas and Texas).


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SWINE FLU STRAIN IN SAN DIEGO MATCHES DEADLY VIRUS IN MEXICO; ANTI-VIRAL MEDICINES COMBAT DISEASE IF TREATED EARLY

 

By Miriam Raftery

ECM intern Marissa Kerizan also contributed to this story.

 


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CONGRESSMAN FILNER JOINS LOCAL OFFICIALS TO OPPOSE RELEASE OF CONVICTED SEX OFFENDER TO OTAY MESA

( Manuel Paul, San Ysidro School District Superintendent; Clarissa Falcon, District Director for State Senator Denise Ducheny; Rachel Solorzano, Congressman Bob Filner, Representative from Assembly Member Mary Salas’ Office; Yolanda Hernandez, San Ysidro School Board Member; Hector Espinoza, San Ysidro High School Principal; Jesus Gandara, Sweetwater School District Superintendent; Ralph Dimarucut from Assembly Member Mary Salas’ Office; Anastasia Farbur from Senator Denise Ducheny’s Office; Raquel Marquez, San Ysidro School Board Member; and Jason Wells, San Ysidro Chamber of Commerce. )

April 16, 2009 (Otay Mesa)--Congressman Bob Filner joined with local school and public officials at the San Ysidro Child Development Center today to publicly oppose the release of convicted sex offender, Matthew Hedge, in Otay Mesa. A judge recently approved a plan to release Hedge in Otay Mesa within the next month, and many are concerned that this is too close to schools and neighborhoods with small children.


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HELIX WATER DISTRICT PROPOSES HEFTY WATER RATE INCREASE

New rates start metering May 1, Public Hearing May 27

By Kristin Hobbs Kjaero and Rachel Ford Hutman

The Proposal

(Rachel Ford Hutman)

April 21, 2009 (La Mesa) - If you are one of the 260,000 residents in the
Helix Water District, you may soon be paying a minimum increase of 20% more
for your water—and for some heavy users, several times higher than those with
low water usage. 

On March 4 the district’s Board of Directors voted 3-2 to issue a notice of
a public hearing May 27, for rate increases which would increase the base rate
by 20% for the first 10 units of water, plus an additional sliding scale based
on usage. For example, a user of 75 units will have an increase of 49%.


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SAN DIEGO’S CARBON FOOTPRINT IS BIGGER THAN LA’S: LOCAL POLICIES TO FIGHT CLIMATE CHANGE ARE LAGGING, CPI REPORT FINDS

April 22, 2009 (San Diego)--The carbon footprint of the average San Diegan--including residential energy use and transportation--is larger than that of the average resident of Los Angeles, a review of available data shows. San Diego also lags behind LA in policies and programs to reduce energy use, according to Climate Change Performance and Policy: San Diego versus Los Angeles, a policy paper issued on Earth Day 2009 by the Center on Policy Initiatives, a San Diego-based think tank.


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FILNER INTRODUCES BILL FOR FEDS TO PAY COSTS OF EMERGENCY RESPONDERS AT BORDER ENTRIES

By Miriam Raftery April 18, 2009 (San Diego)—Congressman Bob Filner (R-San Diego) has introduced the “Save Our Border Communities Act, H.R. 670. The bill would require the federal government to reimburse costs for local police, firefighters and other first responders to provide services associated with U.S. ports of entry on the international border. “The federal government has not reimbursed border towns for border-related incidents and the drain on local emergency services is increasingly unbearable,” Filner stated in a newsletter to constituents.


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SAN DIEGO ACLU SUIT CHARGES FBI & JUSTICE DEPT. WITH DODGING DOMESTIC SPYING FOIA: SEEKS IMMEDIATE PROCESSING OF FREEDOM OF INFORMATION ACT REQUESTS

April 21, 2009 (San Diego)--The Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Justice Department are illegally dragging their feet in responding to a Freedom of Information Act request seeking records from the Camp Pendleton domestic spying case sent in July 2008, according to a complaint filed late yesterday by the San Diego ACLU and the law firm Fish & Richardson The suit in U.S.


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HUNTER CALLS ON CONGRESS TO WITHHOLD FUNDS FOR GITMO CLOSURE; OBAMA RELEASES RECORDS CONFIRMING TORTURE ORDERED BY BUSH OFFICIALS

By Miriam Raftery

April 16, 2009 (Washington, DC) - U.S. Congressman Duncan D. Hunter (R-CA), a member of the House Armed Services Committee, has issued a statement opposing the Obama Administration's request for $30 million in supplemental funding for the closure of Guantanamo Bay.


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TOP DOG: BERSIN NAMED BORDER CZAR BY OBAMA; BUT CAN HE TAKE A BITE OUT OF BORDER VIOLENCE?


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FACING FORECLOSURE? NEED INFO ON HOME LOANS? GET HELP AT FREE HOMEOWNER PRESERVATION SEMINAR APRIL 18 IN SAN DIEGO

By Miriam Raftery April 13, 2009 (San Diego)—At a time when many lenders have evicted families and aggressively foreclosed on, one lender has taken a different approach, setting up a series of events to help families find ways to avoid foreclosure. On April 18th, Project Homeowner, a program to advise California homeowners facing foreclosure on how to keep their homes, will be held on April 18th from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the San Diego Concourse, Golden Hall, 202 C Street in San Diego. The event is sponsored by JP Morgan Chase & Co.


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EAST COUNTY ROUND-UP — MARCH PART TWO

East County Roundup highlights the best stories about East County
issues found in other publications.

East County Roundup LogoJAMUL’S
PLAN TO BUILD CASINO MAY NOT STAND TEST OF HISTORY

San Diego Union-Tribune (March 30, 2009)—

OVERVIEW

Background: The Jamul Indian Village partnered with Lakes
Entertainment to build a casino in East County that faced significant local
opposition.

What's changing: A U.S. Supreme Court ruling over tribal
land in Rhode Island raises legal questions about Jamul's casino plan.

The future: In addition to any impact the ruling may
have, Lakes Entertainment says the project will be delayed at least five years
because of financial concerns and a suit over access to the casino site.

 

COUNTY ADOPTS STRATEGY FOR MANAGING BRUSH:

Local environmentalists say approach
relies too much on controlled burns

North County Times (March 25, 2009)--The county on Wednesday adopted a strategy
for managing the dry brush that fueled two of the region's catastrophic wildfires,
but environmental regulations and a lack of funding could make it difficult
to implement key pieces.

The strategy, which emphasizes controlled burns as a way to clear vegetation,
was outlined in a staff report that was criticized by local environmentalists
as too narrow in its scope.

"If you don't look at the full equation, you may put vegetation treatment
where it's not needed," said Richard Halsey, director of the Chaparral
Field Institute in Escondido. "And, in fact, you may actually increase
fire hazards by converting some of this shrub land into (more fire-prone) weedy
grasslands."

 

THE END OF MOBILE COUNSELING

San Diego Reader (March 20, 2009)-- Today, March 20, marks the final day of
mobile counseling services for residents of the rural East County communities
affected by the Harris Fire. The October 2007 wildfire burned 90,440 acres
across Dulzura, Potrero, Tecate, and Jamul. In its wake, hundreds of homes
were damaged or destroyed, 55 people were injured, and 5 were killed. Numerous
recovery efforts were put in place after the fire, including a free door-to-door
counseling and community outreach service.

For the past four months, the nonprofit San Diego Foundation provided the
service, but because the grant money that funded the program has run out, the
program must end.

 


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ESTRANGED BEDFELLOWS: KEHOE DEFENDS BLOCK, BUT SAYS SHE’S “DISAPPOINTED” WITH LACK OF VOTE FOR GAY MARRIAGE LEGISLATION

By E.A. Barrera

April 2, 2009 (San Diego)—Openly gay San Diego State Senator Christine Kehoe defended newly elected 78th District Assemblyman Marty Block, even as she scolded Block for his refusal to support a resolution calling on the California Supreme Court to overturn Proposition 8, the voter-approved measure which invalidated gay marriages in California.


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CONGRESSMEN SPAR AT SAN DIEGO REGIONAL CHAMBER OF COMMERCE LUNCHEON

By Miriam Raftery April 3, 2009 (San Diego)—Democratic Congressman Bob Filner took some good-natured swings at fellow members of San Diego’s Congressional delegation at the San Diego Regional Chamber of Commerce luncheon on March 27th. “First let me take some cheap political shots,” quipped Filner, sporting boxing gloves. He noted that the Chamber of Commerce and other business interests asked members of Congress to support the President’s stimulus package aimed at boosting the economy and creating jobs.


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